Got a runner on your holiday list? Maybe I can help with this list of my favorite products from the last year of running. They might just be perfect for the runner on your list too.
I may have knocked athleisure in last week's column, but I'm not immune. After I run, I take off my hat or visor and put on something else. Lately, that's been the Headsweats Trucker Bigfoot Mountain hat, which is both whimsical and functional (and also works as a hiking and off-roading hat). If you're using this gift guide more for yourself than someone else, sign up for Headsweats' emails at headsweats.com. They send out deal codes often. I got my hat at 30 percent off because of one of those emails.
This is the most multi-purpose running item I own. I've used the Half Buff as a sweatband on my wrist, headband on, well, my head, and to keep my neck warm. I got mine in a swag bag at a trail race in Canada this summer, but you can find them in different fabrics and sizes, from headband to full buff, at most outdoor stores. I prefer performance fabric, but they come in merino wool and fleece, too.
I'm one of those runners who fly by you in shorts in sub-freezing weather, but I still struggle with keeping the tips of my fingers warm. This winter's solution: REI's Deep Cold mittens, worn over my regular running gloves. They're marketed for skiing, but I don't care. I may look ridiculous, but I don't care about that either. At least my fingers won't freeze.
For those looking to jumpstart their game, the Believe Training Journal from pro runners Lauren Fleshman and Roisin McGettigan-Dumas is an excellent option. It helped me zero-in on my 2015 goals when I started out the year. The new edition comes in the same red cover but also slate gray and light purple. For the runner less into motivation and more into humor, go for The Dumb Runner Training Journal by Mark Remy. It includes the usual spots to log your runs, but it also has quotes like: "The only thing standing between you and your goals are various obstacles" and tips like: "If you're not happy with your race times, try running a little faster." It's very silly, and perfect for the right runner.
Cotton is typically on the no fly list for runners, but Tracksmith has created some clever cotton options to either wear during a run, or after. This summer, I fell hard for their grayboy tank with TRACK stamped down the chest. I kept it in my car to toss on after a hard track workout as a reward for gutting through. The TRACK version was a limited edition and now sold out, but for women they sell similar shirts with an arrow, "harrier" and "amateur" on the front. On the men's side, the cotton options are short sleeve shirts instead of tanks. Tracksmith isn't sold in physical stores. You can only buy their items through their website at tracksmith.com.
You may be locked into a specific running shoe for training, but your socks are free agents. This year, I upped my fun game through a few pairs of Sock Guy socks. My favorites: octopus with an eye patch and unicorns. Other top options among dozens: sriracha, beer, and a monster eye. They have Santa socks too. Most local running stores sell them, but if you're shopping online, they're listed as cycling socks but they work just as well for running. Also, they may have men's and women's options, but all of my pairs are men's.
If your runner is a devotee to a local running store, they're ready for you with branded shirts, hats and pint glasses (as a South Jersey-based runner, the Running Stores of South Jersey's "Exit 3.1" shirt is my current favorite). Of course they have gift certificates, too, if you're overwhelmed by the options, or if your runner needs new shoes but you don't know which pair to buy.